What is likely the oldest message in a bottle in history has turned up on a beach in Germany nearly 110 years after it was launched by a British scientist, the Telegraph reports. The bottle's story starts in 1906 at the end of a two-year span during which George Bidder of the Marine Biological Association in England released more than 1,000 bottles into the North Sea to learn more about currents. Most of the bottles, specially designed to float just above the seafloor, were found within months, and Bidder used them to prove, among other things, that the deep sea current in the North Sea flowed east to west. More than a century later, vacationing Marianne Winkler was walking on the North Sea island of Amrum when she found one of Bidder's bottles.
Winkler tells the Telegraph—and the German-language Amrum newspaper—that the bottle she found in April contained a postcard with instructions to mail it back to the Marine Biological Association in return for a shilling. So she did. The association, which hadn't had a bottle returned in many years, is waiting for confirmation from the Guinness Book of Records that the message in a bottle is the oldest ever found. The record is currently held by one found in 2013 after just over 99 years. Record or no, the association was true to its word, sending Winkler an old shilling it found on eBay. (Closer to home, a bottle launched in 1956 finally turned up.)